MADRID, A FOOD LOVER’S PARADISE
El Mercado de San Miguel
Once we dropped off our things in the hotel room and it was off to our first site to visit, La Plaza Mayor. From La Gran Via, which is where our hotel is located, it is about a 15 minute walk or so to La Plaza Mayor. La Plaza Mayor is a square that was originally known as La Plaza de Arrabal (Outskirts Square) since it is located outside the city walls. Felipe II chose this site as his main center for his new capital. Now, a bronze statue of Felipe II mounted on a horse stands guard in the middle of the plaza.
I saw an episode of Made In Spain with José Andrés, where he travels to Madrid, Spain where he suggests that if you come to visit La Plaza Mayor, you have to try a Bocadillo de Calamares (A Sandwich of Lightly Fried Calamari). My father and I found the exact bar from which José bought his Bocadillo from.
After a wonderful sandwich, we needed something sweet! So we looked around. Of course, upon seeing a sign for Churros con chocolate and Horchata, we knew what we would be having. The Chocolate Sauce that you are given is not sweet like Chocolate syrup or hot chocolate, instead, it is a little bit more bitter, served hot, but perfect for dipping the churros into and also eating it like a soup. Unfortunately, my father couldn’t wait, and took a large sip of the horchata before I took the photo 🙂
After a wonderful lunch, we walked around some more. The alleys around the La Plaza Mayor are filled with small shops and restaurants. I love the small streets. The buildings have so much character and history.
Not sure if food was still fresh on our minds, but if it was, our prayers were certainly answered.We found El Mercado de San Miguel, which is a wonderful indoor market that sells just about any kind of fresh food product.I’m talking fish, poultry, rabbit, cheeses, hams, olives, breads, fruits, cakes, chocolates, candies, coffees, wines, etc.
Now, when I say fish and poultry, I’m not talking about salmon and regular chicken, which they also sell, but more like Angler fish and Black Chicken (actually the feet are black, not the meat). Honestly, the prices aren’t that bad, they are comparable to that of a Fresh Market, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s back home. Granted, you still couldn’t find this much variety this fresh in any one of those markets, but variety/freshness withstanding, the prices themselves are great for what you get.
After leaving the market, we went to eat…NO! I’m kidding, hahaha. Actually, we walked for about twenty minutes to reach our final “planned” destination for the day, El Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid). The Palace has 3,000 rooms that are actually used, and about 25 State rooms that are open to the public.
You know, the way I am, even though the building itself is beautiful; I often find a building’s elements or components just as artful. Looking at the light posts, they are painted black or possibly made of a metal then a black base is added for the colored effect. Either way, the posts themselves are given a contrast with the use of golden pieces that make the overall lights look wonderful.
Like I said, El Palacio Real de Madrid was to be our final planned site, but leaving the area led us to a small park area that surrounded a slow flowing water fountain. The park also featured some bright colored flowers that played against the colors of the buildings nearby.
When going anywhere in Europe, one thing you will always notice, is the use of mopeds as a very popular mode of personal transportation. They are small, stylish, and often decent on gas. Didn’t ever expect to see such a grouping of these things though. Honestly, this scene kind of reminded of what I would expect to see outside a bar scene at night, except with a bunch of Harley Davidsons.
Oh, and apparently, Madrid is in bidding on their chances to become the host of the 2012 Olympic Games. I like their logo, and you can see it everywhere.